[thelist] Accessibility and alt text - quality vs quantity

Stephen Rider evolt_org at striderweb.com
Tue Jan 27 15:12:28 CST 2004

Hi --

If a picture is irrelevant to the content of the site - in other words, 
purely decorative, use


Describing a picture in detail just for the sake of using alt 
attributes is unnecessary and in fact gets in the way of people using 
text browsers.  If the picture is directly relevant to the content of 
the site, on the other hand, by all means describe it.

<tip type"using alt and title attributes">
Title attributes are very useful in tandem with alt attributes.  For 
example, we've all seen how MS IE displays the alt text as a "tool tip" 
when you mouse over an image.  If you want to stop that from happening, 
use title="".  The title will override the alt text for purposes of 
this popup.  If you want the "tool tip" to display something totally 
different from the alt tag, it works for that as well.

In short, alt attributes were intended to be seen _instead of_ the 
picture; the title attribute is meant to be seen _with_ the picture.


On Tuesday, January 27, 2004, at 12:23  PM, Tony Crockford wrote:

> if I have an image that is inessential to the content, but merely 
> serves to add color to the page what is the best approach to alt text?
> I curently have "picture illustrating the theme" (mainly because it's 
> randomly selected) how do we feel about that?
> My interpretation is that its okay since it has no relevance to the 
> content but it's being argued that it should have a full text 
> replacement for the picture (e.g. portrait of a lady in evening 
> clothes, sitting by a window gazing out to sea)

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